Fri, 07 Nov 2008

California's Proposition 8

California's recent election included a citizen-generated Proposition 8, which amends the California state Constitution to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. As you might expect, it was hugely controversial, and if it passes, as is likely, it will be with a percentage or two majority.

Picolopoo got me to blog about this. The problem here is simple; the solution less so. The problem is that you have a social institution and a legal institution coupled together in one name. I completely "get" why some people want to protect the social institution. Marriage is only for one man and one woman, sure, fine.

I less understand why anyone would want to deny legal rights to any group of people who have contracted to live together. What does it mean for "blood relatives" or "immediate family" to have hospital visitation rights? Why should there be inheritance within a marriage have special tax treatment? Why should a step-parent be allowed to pick up a child from school? And ... why should a church be allowed to create a legal arrangement?

I think this legal fight should be over legal rights. The trouble is that "marriage" ties in the social (often religious) arrangement. Perhaps the term "family" is broad enough to include everyone?

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